Pataki out, Thompson maybe out in Senate races

I can’t say I wasn’t warned about Tommy Thompson by Wisconsin bloggers Kevin Binversie and Steve Eggleston.  They sounded highly skeptical when Thompson began floating the possibility of challenging Russ Feingold in this year’s Senate election, noting that Thompson has toyed with the state GOP on other occasions.  According to Milwaukee television station WTMJ, Thompson has done so again and won’t enter the race:

According to sources who have spoken with TODAY’S TMJ4 HD’s Charles Benson, former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson says he will not run for Senator Russ Feingold’s seat.

Thompson is set to announce his future at a “tea party” rally in Madison on Thursday.

Bear in mind that this is not officially confirmed yet, but it does have the same level of confirmation as Thompson’s consideration of the run in the first place. A Tea Party seems like an odd place to announce a non-campaign, but perhaps Thompson has another office in mind.  He could also be working on a 501c(3) type of organization.  We’ll apparently know more tomorrow, but as of now, Feingold has to be breathing easier.

Or … maybe not, as the AP reported later:

Thompson told The Associated Press on Wednesday morning that he hadn’t made up his mind on whether he’ll enter the race. He says, “The only person who knows what I’m going to do is myself and I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

The warning from Kevin and Steve seems to still be relevant.  Stay tuned.

In New York, we have a more solid confirmation that popular former Governor George Pataki won’t rescue Republicans from Kirsten Gillibrand:

Former New York Republican Gov. George E. Pataki has decided not to mount an election challenge against Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand this fall.

Instead, he said in an interview Tuesday that he would create a new national organization aimed at building support to repeal the recently enacted health-care overhaul.

Mr. Pataki’s decision to bypass the Senate race marks another major coup for Ms. Gillibrand, who has been enormously successful in knocking out competition on both sides of the aisle despite appearing to be vulnerable politically. Were he to enter the race, Mr. Pataki would be leading Ms. Gillibrand by 45% to 40%, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday.

Mr. Pataki, 64 years old, said he believed his plan to form the organization, called Revere America, would be the ideal way to play a role on the national political stage.

That’s another odd explanation, though. Where would Pataki do the most good in repealing ObamaCare — running a “national organization,” or replacing a Democrat in the Senate in 2010?  Why not try for the election first, and form the national organization in December if he loses to Gillibrand?

In both cases, the sudden shyness seems odd.  Both Thompson and Pataki had polling advantages in independent and respected surveys against the incumbents.  That’s an advantage that rarely occurs at the beginning of campaigns.  It’s practically a red carpet, and yet neither former Governor have chosen (yet, in Thompson’s case) to stroll down it.

The GOP missed at least one and likely two opportunities to move the Senate into their control in 2011.  It looks almost impossible for that to happen now, and it was a long shot even with Thompson and Pataki in these races.